Be True To You, No Matter Where You Are

Dunkin’ Donuts at Dubai Ice Rink,  Dubai Mall, Dubai UAE

Just a week ago I was on a 14 hour flight home from ExecSecLIVE Dubai. Here I am sitting on the couch, trying to be succinct about what I saw, what I learned, who I met, what I ate. Or maybe that isn’t so important.

Okay, maybe it is.

Here’s what I really took away from my experience.

  1. Be you. Be yourself. Don’t worry about comparisons
  2. Know your stuff (content)
  3. Learn from the attendees. At the Q& A, be open to learning from attendee questioning and feedback
  4. Honor the jet lag. Each of us had jet lag in varying degrees
  5. Always keep an open mind. I particularly appreciated hearing the message about completely mastering our core job duties before taking on more. So true
  6. Try new things! I went ice-skating in Dubai. Try new foods. I tried some very interesting stuffed dates and figs
  7. Be courteous in your host country. (Well, you should be courteous all the time but that’s another blog post.)
  8. Stop and listen. When meeting other attendees, listen more than you talk
  9. Our perceptions are not always accurate. I’m honestly not sure what I thought Dubai would be like, but I know that I found it to be a wonderful mix of modern and ancient.
  10. Our preconceived notions and stereotypes can and should be shoved aside– meet people where they are, as they are
  11. The weekend in Dubai is Friday and Saturday.
  12. It was obvious that the hotel was well-prepared for guests arriving all day and all night from all over the world. Many options were offered to help guests until rooms became available at check-in, including resting in the hotel spa at no charge.

I didn’t take my laptop to this conference. I took my Kindle. I had my phone. My goal was to not take so many pictures that I missed out on experiences. I also wanted to listen to the other presenters. I know if I had my laptop with me, I may not have been as attentive. That’s just the truth.

One last thought. I used to show the speaker picture (see below) to my friends and say, “One of these things is not like the other.” This was my way of saying I felt like I was not like the other speakers and did not belong there.

Dubai 2016 Executive Secretary Live – Speaker Team

I will no longer utter those words. After a bit of research last week, I determined that I’ve delivered more than 100 presentations, taught more than 20 classes and have presented at the four major administrative conferences. Of course I belong up on that stage. And, I know now, more than ever, that there is no better way for me to be true to myself than sharing my administrative professional career experiences and life lessons with others. That’s why my motto is #KeepLearningKeepGrowing !

PS. I was so happy to find a Dunkin’ Donuts in Dubai!






Repeat This Phrase: To Thine Own Self Be True

It’s been a tough jet lag couple of days getting back from #ExecSecLIVE..but so worth it.

It was wonderful to meet my fellow speakers, spend time with attendees and build new relationships. But, I have to tell you (This is an Anel Martin phrase I’m stealing) the best thing  I took away from ExecSecLIVE was the validation. Validation in knowing how to share my experience as an admin, my point of view. Validation in how I tell stories, stories my peers can relate to.  They got it!   Lastly, validation that some stories I tell are, in fact, redonkulous and can trigger laughs from others.  I had been concerned that my style, my approach — might not be the most ‘serious and professional’ compared to the presentations of the others. Had I done my presentations any other way..they would not have been genuine. They would not be true to my style. I’m glad I stayed true to myself and that others could relate.

I’m hoping the fog will lift soon and I’ll be able to write more succinctly and share additional take-aways from the event. For now, I just want to say, ‘Thank you’ to Executive Secretary for this amazing opportunity to learn from my peers and the time to build new friendships.

Day/Eve 13- Countdown to Executive Secretary Live 2015- London

Yes. Yes, I am happy. I’m usually smiling like this with a coffee mug in my hands!

It’s a cold Friday evening here in Virginia. I’ve got a cup of Barry’s tea in hand. (I’m out of Bewley’s.) Our teenage daughter has just returned home from work. I’m doing what I do best. Make lists.

Isn’t that how it is for admins? we’re list-centric, list-addicted types? I adore lists. Hand-written lists on paper! (Scandalous!) Sure, I have tasks on my Outlook calendar at work, but at home I prefer paper. Nothing like the feeling of crossing items off a to-do list to make one feel incredibly productive. I love that lists have the ability to get clutter out of my head and allow me to focus on important things like paying attention to my kid and husband at dinner rather than having my mind wander and wonder.

So on my to-do list for London? I’m not missing out on that afternoon tea, that’s for certain. And the dinners and a few of the tours. I didn’t have a long enough stay to do any sight-seeing during my last visit and this time I’m making up for it.

And on my list for tomorrow? Completing the domestic Saturday ritual of doing laundry, cleaning house, running errands and a tiny bit of shopping for a few DC centric things I want to bring along for a few friends.

By the way, I’m loving the responses to my post. And, thanks for sharing it on Facebook. I do appreciate it!  Goodnight, folks!

Days 15/14 –Countdown to Executive Secretary LIVE 2015- London


Yep. That’s me at the Executive Secretary LIVE conference in 2013.

Fast forward to March 5, 2015 and I’m prepping to return to London for this year’s conference.

I wanted to blog about the preparation to go, my thoughts about presenting and also to encourage others to pursue the things that fill them with joy.

When I attended in 2013, I was not sure what to expect. I have known Julie Perrine for some time and knew she was presenting. I had read Sue France and Bonnie Low-Kramen’s books and couldn’t wait to greet these two thought leaders.  I had been in correspondence with Susie Barron-Stubbley and Doug Dickerson through LinkedIn.

I also had some preconceived notions of what I thought London would be like and what the conference itself would be like.  Ha!  Remember that  old adage about ‘making assumptions’?  Let’s just say I was pleasantly disrupted from those perceptions.

First, I thought Washington, D.C. traffic was challenging.. until London. I am proud to say I was not impatient nor rude to the gentleman driving our transport unlike a few of the others on board. And, I learned that if I had taken the subway (or as you guys call it, the Tube) my transport might have taken less time. When I finally arrived at my hotel room, the view was


I had the most amazing time during my short visit. I met so many delegates/PAs from all over the world and made great friendships with PAs from Italy and Turkey, which I still celebrate today.  And one of the craziest moments was being seated next to a delegate from Pennsylvania– this was her first PA/EA conference- EVER?! We’ve also kept in touch some.

The sessions were fantastic. The social events were impressive. I must admit to feeling a bit intimidated and overwhelmed by the collective brilliance of the presenters, but in a good way. I became very quiet. For those of  you who know me, it’s hard to imagine that happening, but it did. It gave me the opportunity to just soak in the experience,to live in the moment (as Sue France strongly encouraged me to do).

So, as I prepare to return to #ExecSecLIVE, I’m remembering the joy of those few days spent with peers that inspired and motivated me to keep listening to my instinct, to continue to pursue training and speaking opportunities, to share from my experience, strength and hope as an administrative professional.

Off to grab a cup of coffee as I’m working from home today. It’s snowing–which DC has not had much of this year, but our northern states certainly have had too much of it to shovel. I raise my mug to Lucy, Matthew, Rachael, Christian and all the team members and delegates preparing for the conference.


How I Stay Focused on Work from Home Days


On a rare occasion, I’ll find myself with a day with few or no obligations. No obligations to drive my kid to a school function. No obligation to work or do laundry or to go to the grocery store.  Then, it hits me.

Oooh!  I can go see that movie I’ve wanted to go see. I can do a thorough cleaning of our guest room. I can go shopping. I can nap.I can write Thank You notes I owe. I can… aaaaaaaaaah!!
Too many choices!
Sometimes this happens. And I empathize with the issue of not being able to focus.

Here are some tips  (in addition to remembering to brew and drink coffee) I’ve gathered over the last few years that help me focus– especially when I’m working from home during a snow day because truly, I do have some obligations when I’m working from home and I need to get things done. I start work earlier when I’m working from home and therefore, build in more breaks to accommodate various distractions.

  1. Set appointments on my calendar for bathroom breaks and lunch.
  2. Set an additional 2 appointments for 10 -15 minutes each. The first appointment is to remind me to get up from my desk and stretch. The second appointment is for me to spend 10 minutes playing with my kid and my cat.
  3. Sometimes, if I’m super unmotivated- I’ll add in additional reminder appointments to ask me– Have you send so-and-so this? Have you posted that?

And, that is how I remembered that I wanted to post a blog today! But.. my timer says my break is done and I need to get back to work.

One month until I leave for Executive Secretary LIVE in London, and I can’t wait to meet so many amazing people!

Measuring and Moving On

Inventory-taking.  A relied upon business tool to know where the organization stands in terms of assets on-hand, and helps prod the discussion of what other assets may need to be acquired or replenished or sold.

This has been an amazing year for administrative professionals. We have received more press coverage than any other year in terms of presenting the powerful role we play in the workplace. Global peers collaborated and shared the progress of IYOTSA (International Year of the Secretary and Administrative Assistant).  We had a bounty of administrative conferences and training opportunities from which to select– from local PA and IAAP chapter gatherings to specialized conferences focused on a specialty area such as celebrity, business-celebrity and private assistant to the very well-to-do, and onto the global professional development summits like EUMA annual meeting, Administrative Professionals Conference (APC), the Educational Forum and Annual Meeting (EFAM) of IAAP,  and last but not least Executive Secretary LIVE.

Author and professional speaker, Bonnie Low-Kramen stated it best when she said, there is no better time to be an administrative professional. I whole-heartedly agree with her!!

So, what does this have to do with measuring and moving on?

I took a measure of my year in the profession. Some goals accomplished. Others, like taking the Excel MOS exam, not. I had more local teaching and writing to do. My efforts to blog more frequently were met with a writer’s dry spell which left me disheartened. And now, having measured what I did and didn’t get to this year—it’s time to adjust my short-term and long-term stretch goals.

Taking time to do this is really an investment in my sanity and my ability to make progress. It also helps me become better at accepting/declining commitments and focus on loving what I without becoming burned out.

Here’s my suggested method for measuring and moving on.

1)    Take a day off. Get your family out the door. Get some caffeine and sit down with a blank notebook or your laptop.

2)    Divide the document into quarters.


I find that writing these thoughts out—helps dump some of the junk, allows me to box up some other ideas for storage to be re-visited later and be okay with exactly where I’m at personally and professionally. It gives me permission to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly as a process for moving on.

3.  Now.. go get some fuel. If you need to, schedule your re-fueling stops!

This is not necessarily about food—but what makes you energized? Is it music? Art? Time volunteering at your synagogue? What are the things that give you energy?

Music, teaching and connecting w/like-minded friends are my three fuel sources, in addition to hugs from family and friends.

4. Feed the positive. Starve the negative.

Look at how far you’ve come.. not how far you have to go. I’m always amazed at the wonderful, joyous doings of my peers and friends. I’m not saying stick your head in the sand. Instead, what can we do to combat the negative? Less gossip. Less TV news. More time with elderly relatives we may not have with us for long. Notes to friends we’ve lost touch with… Enjoy the unconditional love our our pets. Be grateful for the job…even on days it drives us NUTTY! Know that everyone has challenges going on behind the scenes. Love the things that matter most to us. Tell others when we appreciate them.  You get the idea.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a hot cup of tea and a blank notebook waiting for me.  Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season and a very Happy New Year.


PS. I’m reading two books that I consider to be vital resources for administrative professionals as we grapple with the rapid change in communication methods (text, voicmail, social), and the evolution of the workplace.

1.     The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users –
Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

2.     A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive-
Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt